Nov. 30, 2002: Diario Las Américas, Miami (FL)

Colombia: Human Rights Watch accused of "unprecedented tolerance" with guerrilla forces

BOGOTÁ (DI) - "Mr. José Miguel Vivanco, Director of Human Rights Watch, an entity which claims to defend Human Rights, manifests an unprecedented tolerance with guerrilla forces and a strange persecution against those who fight them", affirmed the non-governmental organization Tradition & Action (Tradición y Acción), in a document published in El Tiempo, of Bogotá (

"The eloquent voice of Mr. Vivanco is unheard in the denouncement of guerrilla-terrorist crimes, but it is heard repeatedly and unjustly accusing the military and police that bravely defend the country, specifically those that have been the most efficient in their task of combating subversion, guerrilla forces and narco-traffic, the root of our troubles", added Tradition & Action, citing as an example the strong criticisms of the Attorney General of the Nation affected by Vivanco in a recent visit Colombia.

In that respect, the entity remembers that Colombian justice has investigated the denouncements previously presented by Vivanco and that "when it actually proved crimes committed by members of the police and the army, including ties to paramilitary groups on the edge of the law, they were severely punished, but in the majority of the accusations it was proven that they were hateful slander set forth by friends and accomplices of the subversion, to which Mr. Vivanco appears to give more credit than to the sentences passed by the Colombian justice."

Tradition & Action also regrets the silence on behalf of Human Rights Watch before and after the kidnapping of the President of CELAM and the Bishop of Zipaquirá by FARC guerrillas: "Mr. Vivanco did not say a single word of lamentation", and after being rescued by the armed forces "again Mr. Vivanco was silent, in spite of it being a time to praise our soldiers, not only for having rescued the victims, but also for having impeded their captivity to have extortionist pressures by the guerrillas on the Church and the country."

Finally, Tradition & Action mentions that every year in Colombia more than 3 thousand people are kidnapped, most of them by guerrilla forces; close to 100 towns, nearly one every third day, are destroyed by bombs and rockets by the FARC and ELN; dozens of police officers and soldieries are savagely assassinated by these terrorist groups and some of them are terribly mutilated; and the conflict has provoked the migration of millions of people.

As of the time of this writing, it was not possible to obtain declarations from the Director of Human Rights Watch about Tradition & Action’s document. The Americas Division, of said organization generically responded that "any information you need on this subject is available on our web site at". However, after a meticulous search, it was not possible to find any HRW statement on Tradition & Action’s denounce.

DI021126 / Destaque Internacional


* Eugenio Trujillo, Tradición y Acción E-mail:

Tel.: (57): 315 5644897 Apartado Aéreo 44 011 Cali Colombia

* José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch E-mail:

Web site: Tel.: (1-202) 612-4330

1630 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500 Washington, DC 20009 USA